Cold and flu season can be nerve-wracking for many people. Sickness can disrupt everyday life by causing missed days at work or school, and extra doctor visits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on cdc.org that “adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.” They also share that cold and flu are the main reasons that adults and children miss work and school.
While CDC reports find that Influenza-like illnesses in Idaho were minimal, as a state we still saw 58 Influenza-related deaths during the 2018-2019 season.
Illnesses spread in many ways, from close contact with family members to shopping cart handles. The CDC states that cold and flu season runs from October to May and peaks from December to February, so illnesses spread during a large portion of the year. Even if you cannot pinpoint the exact source of the illnesses you catch, there are a lot of simple ways to protect yourself and prevent spreading germs to those around you.
The CDC shares lists on cdc.org of ways to protect yourself and others from a cold or flu virus. A compilation of these lists includes:
- Flu vaccine: This will help protect you from the flu virus, or make the illness milder if you still happen to get the flu. It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older is vaccinated, especially those at risk for serious complications from the flu. Those at risk include pregnant women, young children, people with chronic health conditions, and anyone 65 years or older.
- Washing hands with soap and water: It is best to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, also help young children to wash correctly. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands: Viruses on your hands can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cough and sneeze etiquette: Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your arm. Make sure to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid people who are sick: Viruses can spread from close contact with others.
- Stay home if you are sick: Stay home, if possible, to avoid spreading illness to others. If you have had flu-like symptoms, wait at least 24 hours after your fever is gone before returning to work or school.
- See a doctor: When you experience flu-like symptoms, it is best to see a doctor, they can prescribe you antiviral drugs if necessary.
- Disinfect objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.
Avoiding a cold or the flu during this time of year can be tricky. Following these simple steps each day can keep those pesky germs at bay, and give you the best chance at avoiding illness or spreading illnesses to those around you. These tips also help you and your family create healthy habits that can prevent unwelcome germs all year long.